If you’re a suspect in an investigation, there’s a good chance you’ll be contacted by a detective to discuss the allegations against you. Most likely, a lot of questions will start running through the head. Do I have to talk to them? What will they ask me? If I have nothing to hide, I should go in to clear the air, right? It’s not that simple. Willingly talking to a detective gives them the opportunity to use anything you say – and maybe didn’t mean to say – against you. Before you’re questioned by the police, it’s important to be prepared. So, here’s what you need to know.
Know the Situation You’re In
There are actually 3 types of police questioning. Each provide the accused with different rights and obligations from the officers.
- Voluntary Encounters – consensual questioning that can end at any time and don’t permit a search by an officer
- Investigative Detentions – brief 20-minute questionings in which the accused cannot leave immediately and can be frisked by an officer
- Arrests – when arrested, the accused’s rights are very limited; they may be frisked, forced to show ID, or even taken to jail under certain circumstances.
Both investigative detentions and arrests require a certain amount of evidence from the officer, beyond “reasonable suspicion.” In order to arrest or search your you, they must have “probable cause,” but knowing the amount of evidence the officer has against you isn’t always obvious, so it’s important to ask why you are being questioned before anything else.
Remember the Numbers 4, 5 & 6
Law school prepares a defense lawyer to defend against actions. Defending against certain comments that were made during a “friendly chat” with a detective is a lot harder. That’s why when you’re contacted by an officer, it’s crucial to remember you Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendment rights; you’re protected from unreasonable search and seizure, you don’t have to be subject to criminal prosecution and punishment without due process with the right to remain silent, and you have the right to a speedy trial by a jury of your peers.
By saying you want to contact an attorney, you’re not admitting guilt, but simply exercising your rights protected under the Constitution.
There’s No Such Thing as a Casual Chat
Nothing good will come from a friendly conversation with an officer. If you’re called in “just to talk,” it’s more than likely you are a suspect in the crime, and they’re seeking a way to find evidence against you. These investigators and detectives are trained and very skilled in techniques that elicit a confession. They don’t have your best interest in mind and will do and say what they can to get the information they can use against you in court.
You Have to Tell the Truth, But They Don’t
First and foremost, if a detective tells you that by refusing to answer their questions will hurt your case, it’s not true. In fact, police are experts in manipulation and will even lie about having certain evidence against you or an eyewitness in order to scare you into a half-baked confession. Repetitive questions and incriminating statements, even facial expressions and body language, are all persuasion tactics they’ll use to wear you down.
Under that type of pressure, it’s easy to say something you may regret. You’re familiar with the saying, “anything you say can be used against you in a court of law,” and that is one thing an officer will tell you that is absolutely true. So, don’t fall for the other stuff. Ask to speak to your lawyer before anything else, so they can prepare you for the best defense strategy and get you out of the situation sooner.
Reduce Your Risk of Suspicion
There are so many reasons why an accused person would ask to speak to a lawyer. So don’t be afraid of making yourself seem more suspicious by doing so. It’s your best chance at avoiding the worst possible scenario. There are some other questions you can do as well to help reduce your exposure to suspicion while under investigation.
- Ask if you are free to leave
- Ask why they are questioning you
- Be polite and respectful
- Keep your hands in plain sight
That first one is most important. By not asking if you are free to go, police will assume you want to stay and keep the investigation going.
We really can’t stress enough the importance of contacting an experienced defense lawyer before answering any questions under interrogation. An attorney has the knowledge and expertise to get you out of a high-pressure situation and prepare you for what’s to come. Contact our criminal defense attorneys before you talk to the police to get the experience and skills you need to protect your rights and negotiate the best possible outcome for you.Read More
Impaired driving is a serious crime that affects even the most law-abiding citizens who make one bad decision to get behind the wheel. 1 in 3 driving-related deaths involve a driver with a BAC at the legal limit (0.08%) or higher – and what’s even more staggering is that alcohol is involved in 23% of all fatal crashes among 16-20-year-olds, who are under the legal drinking age.
These statistics are a driving force behind why Pennsylvania takes drunk driving very seriously. So if you or someone you know has gotten behind the wheel under the influence and under the drinking age, it’s important to know the consequences that are waiting for you if you get pulled over.
Drunk Driving in Pennsylvania
For all drivers 21 and over, Pennsylvania divides their fines and penalties for a DUI into three categories based on the blood alcohol concentration of the driver at the time of the arrest.
0.08% to 0.099%: General Impairment BAC
0.10% to 0.159%: High BAC
0.16% & over: Highest BAC (or under the influence of a controlled substance)
Whether it is a first, second, or third offense will also play a role in the court’s decision. These consequences can range anywhere from 5 days to 5 years in jail, $300 to $10,000 in fines, 1 to 1 ½ years license suspension, and mandatory drug and alcohol treatment and safety programs. Any driver who refuses to submit to blood alcohol tests are subject to harsher penalties, no matter how many charges they have had in the past.
The Consequences of a DUI for Underage Drivers
For underage drivers, Pennsylvania has a strict DUI conviction for a BAC of as little as 0.02%. Minors who are pulled over or caught driving under the influence risk the following mandatory minimum sentences:
- 48 hours in jail
- A fine of $500
- License suspension of 12 months
- An alcohol safety school & alcohol/drug treatment program determined by the court
- 30 days in jail
- A fine of $750
- License suspension of 12 months
- An alcohol safety school & alcohol/drug treatment program determined by the court
- 90 days in jail
- A fine of $1,500
- License suspension of 18 months
- An alcohol safety school & alcohol/drug treatment program determined by the court
There are also collateral consequences to keep in mind too. For high school or college students, a DUI conviction could result in suspension or expulsion, while jeopardizing scholarships and any character-related programs or achievements. And as a public record, you also face the negative stigma that’s associated with a DUI within your community and with employers; while many insurance companies will also choose to raise rates significantly for convicted drivers.
What Happens After an Underage DUI Arrest?
If you’re pulled over by the police for driving under the influence, the best thing you can do is remain calm and respectful to the law enforcement. You should ask to speak with your attorney immediately as anything you say before this request is part of the investigation and can be used against you in court. And this includes any questions asked by the officer about your sobriety. Being cooperative doesn’t require you to answer any alcohol-related questions after being pulled over. However, if you are showing visible signs of intoxication – bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, etc.- you will likely be arrested on the spot.
For select first-time DUI offenders, there is an opportunity to expunge a DUI conviction from your record under Pennsylvania’s Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program. This program may include counseling, probation, safety classes, and community service. Eligibility will be automatically be denied for defendants whose charge includes the resulting injury or death of other drivers.
Having an Experienced DUI Defense Attorney on Your Side
If you’ve been convicted of an underage DUI charge, our attorneys are skilled at the thorough investigation of drunk driving arrests to help you exploit weaknesses in the prosecution’s case and minimize the lifetime consequences at risk. Contact us today so we can fight for you.Read More
Anyone who’s ever seen a crime show or courtroom drama is probably familiar with the phrase “You have the right to remain silent.” After an arrest occurs, it’s the first thing the fictional cop will tell the individual. But what you may not be familiar with is the other rights you have after an arrest. And surprisingly, real law enforcement officers aren’t always compliant with each one. That’s why it’s especially important that you do know all your rights after you’re arrested and have an experienced criminal defense attorney protecting them for you.
Miranda v. Arizona
In 1966’s Miranda v. Arizona, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that individuals under arrest for suspicion of committing a crime have certain rights that must be explained to them before any questioning can occur. These “Miranda Rights” are designed to protect your Fifth Amendment Right to be free from self-incrimination and are as follows:
- You have the right to remain silent & refuse to answer questions
- Anything you say can be used against you in court
- You have the right to consult an attorney before speaking to the police & have an attorney present during questioning
- If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you
- If you decide to answer questions without an attorney present, you still have the right to stop answering questions at any time
You Have the Right to Remain Silent
Silence cannot be used against you in court. In fact, the smartest thing you can do after an arrest is to not answer any questions until you have an attorney present. Nothing you say during this time is going to get you out of those handcuffs, but it can be used against you in court. The Fifth Amendment protects individuals from being compelled to give a testimony themselves and applies immediately after the arrest, as well as during court when prosecution calls a defendant to the stand.
But remaining silent still requires you to clearly and explicitly tell the arresting officer that you are utilizing the Fifth Amendment right and do not want to speak to the officer without your attorney present.
You Have the Right to a Lawyer
Thanks to the Sixth Amendment, any individual under criminal prosecution that may impede on their life or liberty is required to be granted the assistance of legal counsel through all phases of the criminal process – including interrogation, trial, sentencing, and initial appeal of any conviction.
Having an attorney present to defend your rights and protect you throughout the process is critical. They’re able to provide services for vital aspects that can dictate the outcome of the case. These include:
- Ensuring your rights are upheld and all law enforcement is in compliance during the initial investigation and court proceedings
- Advising and explaining proceedings
- Negotiating a plea deal
- Providing an aggressive defense through cross-examination of government witnesses, presenting all applicable defenses, and objecting to inappropriate questions or evidence.
If You Cannot Afford A Lawyer, One Will Be Appointed
If a defendant wishes to have a government-provided attorney, they must make the request at their arraignment (or first hearing after the arrest). According to the second half of the Sixth Amendment, any defendant that meets low-income criteria set forth by the state of Pennsylvania, or the state in which the proceedings are occurring, will receive a full-time public defender, or in certain cases, a private criminal defense lawyer.
Due to the number of defendants who require these services, many court-appointment lawyers are limited in their time and resources they can devote to each case. In many circumstances, you may have different lawyers at different aspects of the trial with varying levels of experience depending on the difficulty of that phase.
If You Agree to An Interview, You Are Free To Stop It At Anytime
Even if you’re initially willing to answer an officer’s questions during interrogation without an attorney present, you can still invoke your Miranda Rights at any time after. That means having the ability to refuse to answer any more questions without one. But you must know that any questions you have answered from the time the Miranda Rights were read until you request a lawyer, can be used as evidence against you in court.
If you or someone you know is arrested for a crime, call us before you do anything else. The best way to protect your rights and minimize anything that could be held against you in court is by having an experienced defense attorney helping advise and protect you throughout the process. Contact our criminal lawyers in Philadelphia today for a consultation.Read More
Penalties for drug possession in Pennsylvania are some of the toughest in the country. Despite more and more states decriminalizing certain drug offenses, a conviction for possession or intent to distribute in cities across our state offer severe consequences. While these charges vary on the type of drug and the circumstances of the possession, it’s important to consult an experienced drug charge defense lawyer to help you understand what’s at risk based on what types of drug charges are the most severe in Pennsylvania.
Common Drug Charges in Pennsylvania
While there are a number of different drug offenses within PA, the most common involve heroin, cocaine, and marijuana. The primary concern for law enforcement is stopping the trafficking of these substances, but charges for possession even without intent aren’t taken lightly either.
Since these drugs are all very different in their purpose and effects, they are penalized in different ways. Pennsylvania and federal law divide controlled substances into “schedules,” based on their potential for abuse and therapeutic value. Below are a few examples:
- Schedule 1:
Drugs that have a very high potential for addiction and abuse with no medical purposes. (Over 100 drugs are on the official list)
- Schedule 2:
Drugs that may create “severe psychological or physical dependence,” but unlike Schedule 1, contain substances prescribed for medical use.
- Schedule 3:
Drugs that may result in physical dependence or psychological dependence, but in general, have less potential for abuse than Schedule 1 & 2 and are often prescribed medically.
Codeine & Hydrocodone products mixed with aspirin or Tylenol
- Schedule 4:
Drugs that offer very limited possibility of becoming physically or psychologically dependent and are often prescribed medically.
-Clonzaepam (Klonpin, Valpax, etc.)
- Schedule 5:
Drugs that have very little risk of addiction and are prescribed medications. These drugs may sometimes be higher scheduled drugs in lower amounts.
-Cough medicines (with codeine)
-Zolpidem (Ambien, Stillnox, Zolpimist)
Pennsylvania Drug Charges & Penalties
Pennsylvania drug penalties are fairly straightforward: there are two basic misdemeanors – carrying up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $5,000 – and three felonies – Felony Possession with Intent (Drug Trafficking), Felony Possession with Intent To Deliver (PWID), and Unlawful Manufacturing. Depending on the Schedule in which the drug falls under, these charges can result in up to 15 years imprisonment and fines of up to $250,000 per count.
Marijuana is still illegal in PA, so intentionally or knowingly having it within your possession can result in serious charges. These penalties will depend on the amount you are caught with at the time of your arrest, as well as whether or not you have been convicted in the past. For example, 30 grams or more could result in a maximum of one year sentence and $5,000 in fees, while the same amount as a third offense ups the potential jail time to 3 years.
Weight is used to determine the severity of a drug charge involving cocaine. For example, less than 2 grams could result in one-year jail sentence and $5,000 in fines, while 2 to 10 grams of cocaine could receive a minimum 2-year sentence. You’ll also lose your driver’s license for 6 months to 2 years, depending on how many offenses are on your record.
It’s important to note that federal offenses for possession and trafficking may be much more severe depending on the circumstances of your arrest.
Heroin is considered the most dangerous of the Schedule 1 drugs listed above, and so is charged as such. In Pennsylvania, possession of 1 to 5 grams is a mandatory minimum 2-year sentence, largely due to the fact that there is no accepted medical use for heroin in PA.
There may also be programs you could be required to attend which provide rehabilitation to first-time offenders in an attempt to prevent a future offense.
IF you or someone you know if facing a serious drug offense, our dedicated team of criminal defense attorneys are here to help. With experience in all types of drug charges over the last 25 years in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, we’ll fight aggressively to minimize your penalties and protect your freedoms. Contact us today for a free consultation.Read More
If you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol for the first time, it was probably one of the most traumatic experiences of your life. And now, you most likely have a lot of questions. The first one most likely being, “should I get a lawyer?” Even if you boast a perfectly clean driving record going into your arrest, the answer is still YES. Drunk driving crimes are taken very seriously in Pennsylvania, so if you’re a first-time offender, here are some of the main reasons why you need to get a lawyer today.
To Get Answers to Your Questions
Even if you’ve had friends or family who has been convicted of a DUI in the past, every case is different. You’ll have questions that need answers based on your specific circumstances. Without prior experience in the court system, it’s normal to be scared, and an experienced attorney can help ease your concerns by providing you information and guiding you through the process.
As a first-time DUI conviction, you may have more options available to you than in a repeat case, such as a disposition program to avoid a criminal record. It’s important to understand the various scenarios and details of these options, but you’ll be expected to decide quickly. Trying to make these decisions on your own could cost you in the long run.
To Protect Your Rights
By hiring a lawyer right away, they can examine the specific details of your case to determine any possible defenses on your behalf. You have rights under the state and federal law, ensuring that law enforcement handled the initial stop and arrest properly. Your lawyer will be able to catch any of these violations to give you the best possible outcome for your case.
Common defenses involve the following:
- The credibility of the officer who arrested you
- Whether or not the initial traffic stop was constitutional – did they have reasonable suspicion to stop you? Were you read your rights?
- Ensuring the police obtained consent for DUI testing
- The accuracy of the testing equipment used due to lack of maintenance or calibration
- Whether or not the proper testing procedure was followed – observing you for 20 min before testing you, testing within 2 hours of driving the car, etc.
A number of these circumstances could mean for dismissal of the case, so make sure you are working with an attorney who is experienced in DUI crimes.
To Minimize the Consequences You’ll Face
Under state law, the severity of penalties depends on a multitude of factors, including whether it’s a first-time or repeat offense, your blood alcohol concentration level (BAC) at the time of the arrest, and if any injuries or fatalities were a result of the defendant’s condition. While being a first time-offender does help your case, it doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. It does, however, generally give you more options under the law in terms of your penalties. This may involve Pennsylvania’s Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program which may allow for expungement of the crime from your record upon completion.
Other potential penalties and consequences you may face with a DUI charge include:
Anything over the legal limit could result in fines of $300-$5,000
- Jail Time
A BAC of over 0.10 for a first-time offender allows for up to 6 months in jail
- Suspension of Driver’s License
If BAC is over 0.10 or you refused a test, your license could be suspended for a year; that includes losing a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) or work.
- Insurance Rate Increases or Unattainability
A DUI may result in higher limits of insurance and more expensive coverage
- Employment Implications
Many employers have policies against employing or hiring anyone with a DUI conviction:
- Increased Penalties in the Future
Due to Pennsylvania’s 3-tiered sentencing guidelines, any second offense you face will be much more severe than the first
- Drug & Alcohol Treatment
You may be forced to undergo drug and alcohol education or treatment, as well as community service if a minor was in the vehicle
- More Severe Penalties
If there was collateral damage as a result of your DUI, including injuries or fatalities, you’ll be faced with much more serious penalties, as well as possible lawsuits from the victims
If you’ve recently been arrested for a DUI, don’t wait any longer to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Whether you’re a first-time or repeat offender, our lawyers will fight to protect your rights and minimize your consequences. Contact us for a free consultation today.Read More
Opioid abuse has become a growing epidemic across the United States, which is why prosecutors are really cracking down on users and prescribers. In just one year (2016-2017), Opioid overdoses increased by 30% across 45 states. And in Philadelphia, Opioids now make up 60% of the drugs found by law enforcement, and twice as many people die from these overdoses than murder (over 700). If you’ve been arrested due to Opioid use or distribution, it’s important to understand the consequences you could face and your options to help you move on with your life. Here’s what happens after an Opioid arrest:
Penalties for Opioid Possession
In Pennsylvania, there is no standard penalty for drug possession since it is dependent on a number of factors involved in every case. These typically include the type of drug, intended use, quantity and potency, and other circumstances regarding the arrest itself. But when it comes to being arrested for Opioid possession, you can expect the following repercussions:
- Fines: These can be as much as $250,000, or even higher in situations where the defendant has earned significant amounts of money through drug trafficking. Courts have the power to implement fines and penalties that absorb all the drug-related income generated.
- Jail or Imprisonment: This could range anywhere from a few days or weeks to as long as 15 years.
- Probation: A judge may place a defendant on probation if they are a first-time offender or there was a relatively small quantity of Opioids found. But this doesn’t mean you get off easy, as standard probation terms can significantly impact a defendant’s daily activities and routine, including restricting interaction with any friends or acquaintances who are known for drug possession in the past.
Defense Against Opioid Charges
When these consequences are on the line, the best way to protect yourself is to contact an experienced criminal lawyer about your case. An arrest does not mean you are automatically charged with a crime so make sure you stay calm but take action right away. By speaking to a lawyer as soon as possible, they can help investigate any potential defenses that can be used to help your case. For example, if the drugs being seized illegally because the police didn’t follow the steps to proper search, or if you can prove the drugs belonged to someone else. Other defenses may include:
- You were unaware of your possession of the drug – maybe you were driving someone else’s car where the drugs were found or were given the substance enclosed within something else without realizing what it was.
- You had very limited quantities in your possession – if you were found in possession of a very small amount or potency of Opioids, penalties may be reduced on the basis that you had no intent to distribute
- You have a prescription – you could avoid being charged if you have proof of prescription for the drug
What You Should Do After An Opioid Arrest
As always, the worst thing you can do is fight or resist the police during an arrest, but you don’t have to provide them with anything other than your basic information until you contact a lawyer. The first thing you should do is contact your lawyer as soon as you have the opportunity. If you don’t already have one, reach out to a trusted friend or family member who can contact one for you.
Secondly, if you are assigned bail until trial, you’ll most likely have to pay before you can leave. Speak to your lawyer about your options if you’re having trouble financially.
You’ll want to provide your lawyer with all the details of your arrest, describing how the police found the drug, under what circumstances the arrest took place, anyone else that was with you, etc. Everything you tell your lawyer is confidential, so it’s crucial to be honest with them as any detail could help you, or reversely, hurt you if not prepared.
Your lawyer will then advise you on the next steps. Following these instructions is extremely important as it can greatly impact your case. They’ll most likely start by telling you what to do and what to avoid, including sharing details of your arrest with other people or on social media.
If you or someone you know has been arrested for Opioid possession, don’t wait another minute to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to fight for the best possible outcome. Call us today to discuss your case during a free consultation.Read More
Drunk driving is Pennsylvania’s second leading cause of accidents and fatalities, behind only speeding, with Philadelphia making up a large percentage of these tragedies. For this reason, even a first-degree offense can lead to serious legal repercussions, including substantial fines, mandatory drug, and alcohol counseling, even jail time. While you may be aware of these consequences, you may not realize the long-term collateral damage it also causes. So before you call just any lawyer to defend your DUI case, here are the collateral consequences you could be risking.
Increased Auto Insurance Premiums
In addition to the potential fines, you’ll be responsible for, a DUI conviction can make your auto insurance a real issue. First and foremost, your rates will increase significantly. And switching insurance companies won’t help; your criminal record makes you a high risk no matter where you go which will make companies reluctant to cover you. You could wind up paying premiums of up to hundreds or thousands of dollars more than drivers without a record.
One of the risks you take with drunk driving is losing your license. In some cases, a defendant can petition the court for a restricted license that allows you to still (and only) get to and from work, but in many cases, you won’t be so lucky. Without public transportation, that makes daily commutes a major inconvenience on you and your loved ones. Consider driving your kids to school or sporting events, grocery shopping, going to the bank or post office, or doctors visits when someone gets sick or hurt. Not to mention if traveling is part of your job, you’re looking at far bigger problems.
Lost Employment Opportunities
As an at-will employment state, employers-employees in PA can be terminated by either party for any reason (within discrimination laws). So even if the state simply accuses you of a DUI, your employer can fire you without recourse. What’s worse is they don’t have to rehire you if the charges are dropped or you’re acquitted. A clean driving record is necessary for a multitude of jobs which require good character (medicine, finance, social services, etc.), so your future employment opportunities will be significantly affected as well.
The student code of conduct at many schools and universities prohibit any illegal activity, including drunk driving. As a result, students can face serious repercussions from their academic institution after a conviction. This includes:
- Loss of a scholarship or financial aid package
And if education is in your future plans, you should know that schools may use a criminal record as a factor when deciding on applicants, which could result in the derailment of your academic plans before they even start.
If you’re facing a DUI charge, it’s crucial to understand that a conviction is not necessarily inevitable. With an experienced attorney, you’ll have the very best chance at providing a defense that applies to your case and could help you avoid a criminal record. Contact our lawyers to discuss your case in a free consultation.Read More
Most people facing criminal charges in Philadelphia for the first time have no idea what to do… and what not to do. A first offense can be scary, which is why having an experienced and knowledgeable attorney guiding you through the process is so important. But there are a few general guidelines to follow to give you and your lawyers the best chance to get you the outcome you deserve. Here are 6 do’s and don’ts for your criminal case from our team.
- Do Be Honest with Your Lawyer
First things first, hire an experienced lawyer to handle your case. Defending yourself is an extremely risky idea while hiring just any lawyer can be just as unpredictable. You want an experienced criminal defense lawyer who knows the ins and outs of the practice and has the time to represent you properly. While your lawyer does their best to represent you, the best thing you can do to help yourself is being honest with them. Some people are hesitant to be completely truthful and leave parts of the story out because they’re embarrassed or afraid. Conversations between you and your attorney are strictly confidential, so make sure your information is honest and all-inclusive. In order to protect your constitutional and statutory rights to the best of our ability, we need the truth and nothing but the truth.
- Don’t Speak to Law Officials without Your Lawyer Present
When you’re arrested, a law enforcement officer should read you your Miranda Rights, starting with the most well-known you have the right to remain silent. And you should. There’s nothing you can say to talk your way out of the arrest or help your situation. You will need to provide your basic information, but other than that, what you should say: “I would like to speak with my lawyer first.” You also shouldn’t consent to any searches. If a police officer asks, you have the right to say no, giving you the opportunity to contact a criminal defense attorney first.
- Do Be Polite & Respectful
From the moment you get pulled over or questioned to your court day, this practice is a good idea. Again, you won’t be able to fight or negotiate your way out of the situation, so remain calm and be polite. Once in court, it’s important you understand that judges and jurors have immense power, so treating them with the utmost respect will only help you in the end. Dress in your “Sunday Best,” unless otherwise told by your lawyer, always stand when you speak to the judge and address them as “Sir,” “ma’am” or “Your Honor.” Your goal is to best portray yourself as a law abiding citizen so it’s important to act as such.
- Don’t Share or Talk about Your Case with Others
It’s ok to at least talk to family and close friends, right? Wrong. The more people you talk to, the more people the police have to interview and creates a new opportunity to find differences between your word and evidence of the case. By keeping quiet, you’ll not only help yourself but spare your loved ones as well. And posting information related to your case on social media is a big no, no. Anything you share can be held against you in court, and you never know who is watching or keeping track of your accounts.
- Do Comply with Pre-Trial Service Requirements
If at any point before your trial, you are released from custody, it’s imperative you follow the conditions of your release. Whether this includes mandatory check-ins or attending court-mandated programs, make sure you show up on time, every time. By remaining on your best behavior and avoiding any additional violations related to your sentencing, you can not only keep yourself out of further trouble but build a good character defense for yourself in court.
- Don’t Approach Victims or Witnesses in Your Case
Even if this doesn’t violate a restraining order or condition of your case, you could still be jeopardizing the results of your case. These victims or witnesses are most likely cooperating with authorities, so any interactions you have with them could be viewed as obstruction of justice or witness tampering. Keep your distance to give your attorney the best chance to use these individuals to help your case, instead of hurt it.
If you’ve been charged or arrested for a crime, like a DUI, Drug Possession, or Sexual Assault, our lawyers are here to help. Let our experience guide you through the do’s and don’ts of the process and fight for the best possible outcome for your case. Contact us to schedule a meeting today.Read More
Probable cause is one of the most important concepts in deciding when it’s appropriate for the police to arrest, search, or stop an individual for questioning. This Fourth Amendment law rooted in the Bill of Rights has continued to evolve through state and federal decisions over the years, so if you or someone you know if being charged with a crime, it’s important to understand what it means today. So what exactly is probable cause and who does it protect?
Probable Cause in Criminal Law
Probable cause refers to the requirement that police must have an adequate reason, based on supporting facts and circumstances, to make an arrest, search for evidence, or stop someone for questioning. The concept is based on the right of a person to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. It also further specifies that a search warrant cannot be issued unless there is a probable cause for doing so.
The Supreme Court has defined “seizure” as both the seizure of evidence and of a person during an arrest. The officer must be able to provide sufficient facts and circumstances that would lead a reasonable person to believe that a particular crime has been committed by the suspected individual in order for a legal search, seizure or arrest to occur.
Probable Cause to Search
Probable cause to search is based on the facts and circumstances provided leading a reasonable person to believe that the crime was committed at the location to be searched or the evidence exists within this location. In this case, a search warrant must specify the place to be searched, however, there are also cases in which a search warrant isn’t required. Some of which include:
● With the consent from the person in charge or ownership of the premises
● When conducting certain searches connected to a lawful arrest
● When the public safety or loss of the evidence is threatened
● If contraband is “in plain sight” when the officer has the right to be present
Probable Cause to Seize Property
A police officer has probable cause to seize a particular property when the facts and circumstances support the reasonable belief that the item is contraband, is stolen, or is considered evidence to a crime.
With a search warrant, the police may only search for items covered within the warrant. But if they discover any other evidence or contraband during their search, it may be seized as well. Conversely, If there is no warrant in play, and the search proves to be illegal, the evidence cannot be used against the defendant under the “exclusionary rule.” The judge will make the final decision on this based on arguments from both sides of the case.
Probable Cause to Arrest
If the facts and circumstances within the officer’s knowledge are enough for a reasonable person to believe the suspect has committed a crime, is committing a crime, or will commit a crime, then there is probable cause to arrest that individual.
However, short of arrests, there are “detentions,” which do not require probable cause. These temporary restraints, including car stops, pedestrian stops, and occupants while police obtain a search warrant, only require “reasonable suspicion.” While this term is often used interchangeably with probable cause, they are in fact very different.
What is Reasonable Suspicion?
Reasonable suspicion is the idea that a police officer must believe a crime has occurred or may occur using the facts and circumstances of the specific situation based on their professional skills and training. An example of this may include pulling over a car that swerves multiple lanes to see if the driver is under the influence.
If you or a family member were arrested or convicted of a crime, you have rights under The Fourth Amendment. If you are searching legal advice based on your detainment and whether or not your right to the probable cause was violated, contact our lawyers to discuss your case and get the protection you deserve.Read More
In many cases of a simple assault misdemeanor, a misunderstanding is to blame for the defendant’s conviction and now they have to live with a criminal record. If you’re wondering if it’s possible to have your criminal record expunged of your simple assault charge, the answer is, fortunately, yes. But like with any expungement, it depends on the specific factors of your case. The best first step is to consult an experienced assault lawyer in Philadelphia who knows what it takes to get your criminal charge expunged. Let us start by giving you a short overview on how to get a simple assault misdemeanor expunged from your record.
How Do I Qualify for Expungement?
In Pennsylvania, there are a few ways in which a person may qualify to have their criminal record expunged. Due to state law requirements, these possibilities aren’t necessarily beneficial to individuals who are seeking an expungement because of how it has affected their career or other areas of their life. For example, the first way to qualify for expungement is if you are at least 70 years old and have been free of any prosecutions or arrests for 10 years. However, this 10-year period only begins once the original probation or prison sentence has ended, which could add years to the process. Depending on your current stage of life and motivations for an expungement, such as applying for a new home or job, this exception may not benefit you.
Another way to have your record expunged is if you have not been arrested in the last five years. This option, however, only applies to summary offenses, or most non-violent crimes, which rules out simple assault crimes. Similarly, you can also have a crime expunged after the successful completion of an ARD program or Section 17 probation, which are both typically implemented for non-violent misdemeanors.
Finally, an expungement may be granted if the convicted has been deceased for three years. While this procedure is clearly not beneficial to the deceased, it could provide relief to the family of the decedent.
Pennsylvania’s New Expungement Law
The good news is that Pennsylvania recently passed a new expungement law in 2018 in order to expand the types of misdemeanors that qualify for expungement. While the Senate Bill 391 was primarily instated to expunge second and third-degree misdemeanors, there is an exception for a violent offense of the third degree.
If in the case of a third-degree misdemeanor, the defendant was involved in a mutual struggle or a fight with another willing participant, then the assault can be removed from his or her record. But the requirements for having a simple assault expunged are stricter than Pennsylvania’s standard expungement rules. For example, only after avoiding arrest or conviction for 10 years can you request that your record be sealed; which is different from expungement in that it is still accessible by law enforcement officials. The general public or an employer, however, will have a lot of difficulties viewing your criminal history, which offers the best case scenario in preventing the crime from affecting your everyday life.
In the case of second-degree misdemeanor simple assault, there are no exceptions to having your criminal record expunged unless you receive a pardon from Pennsylvania’s governor. This also applies to all sex-related assault offenses.
In order to better understand the options for an expungement and how to proceed with your simple assault charge, contact our experienced assault attorneys for a consultation. With years of experience helping individuals get their criminal records expunged, our team can help you move on with your life.Read More